‘A Comedy of Tenors’ is Fast and Furious at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – Following up on his earlier farce, “Lend Me a Tenor,” playwright Ken Ludwig has written a sequel with equally zany scenarios of mistaken identities and slapstick actions.
But the problem with any farce is that it needs a light touch. In this case, while the actors work hard and all have excellent timing, the pitch is on high throughout. There’s never a quiet moment or conversation that isn’t over the top.
The plot centers on a three-tenor concert, with various mishaps as the singers either don’t arrive, go off in a huff or are otherwise compromised. Michael Kostroff is the producer, Saunders, who is at his wits end in trying to put this performance on stage. One performer has already backed out, so he engages his assistant, Max (David Josefsberg), to fill in.
The famous singer, Tito, played by John Treacy Egan has arrived in Paris with his wife, but mistakenly thinks she is cheating on him when he sees her helping Carlo (Ryan Silverman) who is in love with their daughter Mimi (Jill Paice). Tito goes off in a huff and refuses to be in the concert.  Paice is fetching in a costume she wears while auditioning for a French production. She’s certainly in the spirit of it all when she jumps off the balcony.
Saunders still needs a replacement for Tito. Who should appear, but a hotel porter, who looks much like Tito and has a naturally robust voice.  Egan is no doubt the star of this convoluted play, appearing in both parts while never losing the difference between the two characters…or even getting out of breath with all those costume changes.
Coming somewhat later is Tatiana Racon, a Russian actress/singer played by Donna English. She recalls a love affair with Tito and mistakes the porter for the famous tenor. English has a wonderful sultry presence and her line “Men are being afraid of me. I am not knowing why” neatly describes her overbearing libido. There’s a lot going on as Maria, Tito’s wife, and Racon both think they’re involved with the same person. Judy Blazer perfectly captures the emotional fallout of putting up with Tito and his ego.
Like any farce worth its weight (or lightness), the confusion keeps building. Silverman is suave and delightful as Carlo, having recently been in the acclaimed “Finian’s Rainbow” at Irish Repertory Theatre. Most of the cast and director were in the earlier production at Paper Mill in “Lend Me a Tenor” so this is no doubt a joyful reunion.
Don Stephenson has directed his excellent cast with verve. Still, it’s so over the top that there’s no opportunity to build from quiet scenes to high emotion.
Costumes by Mariah Hale are mostly stunning and understated when that makes sense. Michael Schweikardt’s set is an elegant Paris suite with chandeliers, a view of the Eiffel Tower, bouquets of flowers and high end touches. There’s also a buffet laden with French food and the pickled tongue plays a major role.  The play is set in 1936.
The tenors do have strong, appealing voices when they have a few moments of operatic harmony. Their rendition of “The Drinking Song” from La Traviata is thrilling. The final curtain call is another opportunity for a kind of fast-forward repetition of door slamming, slapping and fainting, as you see highlights of the plot flashing by.
The standing ovation on opening night proves that Ludwig’s non-stop farce is sure to be a hit. His “Murder on the Orient Express,”  based on Agatha Christie’s play, opens at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton in March.   A local production of “Moon over Buffalo” will be at the local Chatham Playhouse later this month. So the prolific playwright continues to be a draw throughout New Jersey.
Performances continue through Feb. 26 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. For tickets, call 973-379-3636 or visit papermill.org.

Liz Keill reviews professional theatre in the New Jersey area, ranging from the McCarter Theatre in Princeton to Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. In addition to writing for Tapinto.net, she does theatre analysis for HometowneTV in Summit. She holds a Bachelor's in Journalism from Penn State and a Master's in Communication from Syracuse University. Liz is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, which holds seminars at regional theatres across the country as well as in New York City.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Providence

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July 18, 2018

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with ...

Union County College Foundation’s 3rd “Close the Gap” Campaign Surpasses Goal

CRANFORD, NJ – With over 150 guests and volunteers in attendance, the Union County College Foundation surpassed their goal and raised nearly $55,000 at their 3rd Annual Close the Gap Campaign cocktail reception. Held on July 11, in the Richel Student Commons at the College’s Cranford campus, this campaign was developed by a small group of dedicated community volunteers to support the ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

TAPinto Spotlight on Business Features New Providence Dentistry

July 17, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - TAPinto "Summer Spotlight on Business" features local businesses and their owners who are important to our communities. Follow this column to receive a fresh perspective on small business owners and their unique needs while shining a spotlight on their stories.

This edition features New Providence Dentistry, operated by Dr. Beth Herko and her staff of ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, July 19, 1:30 PM

My Gym New Providence, New Providence

Summer Camp

Arts & Entertainment Education Health & Wellness Other Sports


Fri, July 20, 8:00 AM

Providence Health & Fitness, New Providence

Barre Intensity

Health & Wellness


Fri, July 20, 9:15 AM

Providence Health & Fitness, New Providence

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Health & Wellness


Fri, July 20, 10:30 AM

Providence Health & Fitness, New Providence

Pilates Reformer

Health & Wellness


Fri, July 20, 6:30 PM

Providence Health & Fitness, New Providence

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

And Over Here is the Dining Hall 2

My very first job in admissions was while I was still an undergraduate myself as a tour guide.  Very early on they indoctrinated us with some tricks of the trade.  It’s a dining hall, not a cafeteria.  A residence hall, not a dorm.  If you have to divulge some negative bit of information, sandwich it between two positives.  There were instructions for glossing over ...

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Beneficiary Forms - As Important as Your Will

As you plan for the future, don’t leave out one of the most overlooked must-do’s: naming the beneficiaries of your retirement assets. Updating your beneficiary forms ensures that the legacy you worked so hard to build will be distributed correctly. Don’t delay -- the designations on your beneficiary forms supersede those stated in your Will. 

Try answering the ...